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Former All Black winger Jonah Lomu has died at the age of forty years old leaving his wife Nadine and two sons.
Lomu was diagnosed with a rare and very serious kidney condition in 1996 which eventually forced him to stop playing rugby. He had a kidney transplant in 2004, but the organ stopped functioning in 2011.
The winger played for New Zealand between 1994 and 2002. He is joint holder of the record for Rugby World Cup tries having scored 15 tries in 11 games. Bryan Habana is joint leader but has played in three world cups.
His death came as a shock to his family as he had only returned from the UK on Tuesday after working during the recent Rugby World Cup.
New Zealand Rugby has expressed its shock at the sudden death of Jonah Lomu.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said,”We’re all shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden death of Jonah. We’re lost for words and our heartfelt sympathies go out to Jonah’s family. Jonah was a legend of our game and loved by his many fans both here and around the world.”
Lomu played 63 Test matches for the All Blacks in a celebrated career from 1994 through to 2002. He burst onto the global stage at the 1995 Rugby World Cup when he scored seven tries in four matches, including four tries in the semifinal against England.
SANZAR Interim chief executive, Brendan Morris, said: “Not only was Jonah Lomu a legend of our game, he was one of those rare superstar players that transcended rugby. He quickly became a household name around the world with his power and skill, inspiring a generation of athletes.
“While we mourn the tragic loss of Jonah, we should also take time to remember and celebrate his wonderful career and achievements. Lomu will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the greatest players the game has seen.
“Our heartfelt condolences are extended to the Lomu family and New Zealand Rugby as another legend is taken far too soon. Rest in peace.”
Lomu was the star of the 1995 Rugby World Cup tournament, held in South Africa, and went on to become arguably the sport’s first global superstar.
“We woke up to the news of Jonah’s sudden passing this morning and I speak for the whole South African rugby community when I say we are deeply, deeply shocked and moved by this news,” said Mr Oregan Hoskins, president of SARU.
“Jonah was a simply unbelievable player but, as much as he was a mighty All Black, he had a special place in South African hearts because of the connection we made in 1995.
“He was a credit to his country and a world ambassador for the game, loved as much for his humility and generosity of spirit as his playing. His passing leaves a hole in all our rugby lives.
“I would like to pass on the condolences of the South African rugby community to the entire New Zealand rugby community but most particularly to Jonah’s family and closest friends.”
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